Bruce Isaacson was appointed as the first Clark County Poet Laureate and began his two-year term June 1, 2015. August 22, 2018 – Posted in: Uncategorized

Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson
Photo by: Ed Fuentes

The Clark County Commission established the honorary position to encourage poetry as an art form in Southern Nevada and a medium for inspirational public commentary. A committee of poets and writers chose Isaacson. The committee also selected Jessica “Jes Flo” Washington as Alternate Poet Laureate. Isaacson, Washington, and several other local poets read their work in a public appearance at Winchester Cultural Center June 6. On Saturday July 18 Isaacson will begin a series of three workshops about the Beat Poets, also at Winchester, and will inaugurate a weekly series of open poetry readings there Saturday, July 25. The workshops and readings are free.

“We are proud to welcome Bruce Isaacson as Clark County’s first poet laureate and his alternate, Jessica Washington,” said Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who was instrumental in creating the position. “It’s important to promote the arts in our community, and Bruce Isaacson is a perfect example of someone who has been quietly working with our poets and helping to raise the quality of literature in Clark County.”

Isaacson, 58, has lived in Las Vegas since 1995. He studied at Brooklyn College under the renowned American poet Allen Ginsberg, who guided his studies and his Master of Fine Arts thesis. Isaacson also took poet Robert Haas’ workshop at the University of California, Berkeley. In New York City Isaacson was a finalist in the first season of the poetry slam at the renowned Nuyorican Poets Café and sponsored a series of Poetry Meltdown readings. He was featured in the Poetry in Motion series at Tommy Tang’s in New York and Helena’s and Largo in Hollywood, a series that included readings by respected poets–as well as actors such as Alec Baldwin, Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ed Begley, Jr. Isaacson is known in the San Francisco Bay Area as organizer and poet in the Cafe Babar readings in the 1980s and 1990s for Zeitgeist Press, which he founded with two other poets in 1986. He remains publisher and co-editor of Zeitgeist, which has produced more than 100 titles, including some notable Las Vegas books. Isaacson speaks both Russian and Spanish. In 1992, Isaacson became involved in poetry and translation at the Writers Union in Leningrad.

Starting in 1997, Isaacson participated in the popular readings in Las Vegas at Café Espresso Roma and Enigma Garden and brought nationally-known writers to read in the city. His work has appeared in a number of Las Vegas journals and magazines, including Red Rock Review, which he also edited. He now runs a Las Vegas company that is an employment agency, real estate, and consulting business. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and daughter. His son is a junior at Reed College. Isaacson has ambitious plans for his term as laureate, including working with other poets to educate the public about poetry. He will publish an anthology of poetry by the poets of Clark County.

Washington is a popular poet and spoken word artist who started a local poetry group called POET (People of Extraordinary Talent) and other groups that deal with such social issues as domestic violence.

Isaacson has assembled a group of local poets and appointed them as Poet Laureate Representatives to insure that the work of encouraging and expanding interest in poetry will spread throughout the community: Keith Brantley, Andy Hall, Andy Kenyon, Jorge Lara, Rosa Mendoza, and Alternate Poet Laureate Jessica “Jes Flo” Washington will be working with Isaacson to create a number of poetry events and to bring distinguished poets to read in Southern Nevada.